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Legislature fails to pass Ka‘u Hospital funding measure

Senate Bill 1410, which sought funds to expand urgent care and outpatient behavioral health services at Ka‘u Hospital’s clinic, was not passed in this year’s legislative session, which ended last week.

Ka‘u Hospital administrator Merilyn Harris told the Tribune-Herald in March the hospital sees about 5,000 patients a year in its clinic and about 3,000 patients per year in its emergency room, a significant portion of whom could probably be cared for in a different setting.

“We’re disappointed that SB 1410 was not be funded. We really appreciate the support from Sen. (Dru) Kanuha who sponsored the bill,” Harris said Tuesday. “Without that funding we are not going to be able to move ahead with plans to add urgent care hours or bring behavioral health services to our clinic.

“This means that many patients will continue to use the expensive resources of the emergency department for non-emergent health care because when they can’t get an appointment in a local clinic when they need it and patients who require the behavioral health services will have to travel to Hilo or Kona. We’re not giving up on these goals of the bill and will continue to look for ways to achieve them.”

Harris thanked community members, businesses, organizations and employees for their support of the measure.

“We will need your energy and commitment to improving health care in the Ka‘u District in next year’s legislative session.”
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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